Jennifer Fairfax

Jennifer Fairfax, ESQJennifer's life has intersected with the areas of adoption and family building since she was a teen.  Her adult goddaughter is an international adoptee and her adult nephew is a domestic adoptee.  She, herself, underwent fertility treatments to become a parent and has found assisting others in building their families through Adoption or Assisted Reproduction Technology ("ART") rewarding.  She has a passion and vision for famlies unmatched by others in the area of law and limits her practice to family building to ensure she can provide the best service to her clients.

Jennifer is a Bethesda Magazine 2019 Top Adoption Attorney (see Bethesda Magazine Attorney Profile) and most recently spoke at the 2019 Florida Adoption Council Conference on ethical considerations when representing expectant parents and birth parents.  She is a Sustaining Fellow of the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys ("AAAA"), the lead organization in the United States on family building through Adoption and ART.  Jennifer served on AAAA's Board of Trustees for four years before serving as Vice President in 2017.  She was awarded AAAA's President Award for her Leadership, Dedication, Fairness and Vision for Adoption and ART in 2016.  She is the 2013 recipient of the Maryland State Bar Foundation Legal Excellence Award and the 2020 Montomgery County Bar Association Section Chair of the Year award.

Jennifer is admitted to practice law in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. She is also admitted to practice before the United States Federal Courts in Maryland and the United States Supreme Court.

Jennifer handles domestic infant adoptions through agency and private adoptions. She assists clients through the legal process, including navigating the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) process for domestic adoptions, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and the re-adoption and/or finalization process for international adoptions.  She represent all types of families including single parents, married or unmarried heterosexual couples, LGBTQ parents and grandparents.  She represents expectant parents, birth parents and adoptees in uncontested adoptive placements. Jennifer's extensive adoption experience includes second parent adoptions, stepparent adoptions, international re-adoptions, adoptions through foster care, agency adoptions, and private adoptions.  Her client centered practice is key to her clients successful family building endeavors.

Jennifer also has extensive experience working with clients who are interested in growing their families through the use of ART.  Her clients utilize the services of a gestational carrier (surrogate) or a donor including known and anonymous egg, embryo and sperm donors.  She assist couples in navigating agreements for their own genetic material in the event of death or separation.  Jennifer represents egg donors, sperm donors, embryo donors, surrogates (gestational carriers) and intended parents, thus, she has a universal view in both adoption and ART cases.  She has obtained birth orders both pre-birth and post birth, handled birth certificate amendments in Virginia and assisted many clients in ensuring their parental rights are secure.

Jennifer is highly regarded in the adoption field having authored the "go to" book on adoption for adoption professionals, "The Adoption Law Handbook" published by the ABA in 2011 and the Second Edition published in 2018 which sets out best practices for adoption attorneys and other adoption professionals.  Jennifer often speaks before prospective clients, law students and attorneys.  She is a standing facutly member at the Judicial College of Maryland where she repsents on modern family law issues as part of their training.  

A previous Court Appointed Special Advocate through the CASA program, Jennifer is appointed to represent children and birth parents in adoption cases.  Jennifer serves on the Board for Voices for Children Montgomery (VFCM) a nonprofit which advocates for abused and neglected children while helping them find a safe home. VFCM is located at VFCM  She is Past President and served on the Board of the Center for Adoption Support and Education which provides adoption related counseling and support services for all members of the adoption triad.  They can be found at CASE.  Jennifer has been featured on the Paul Samakow Radio Show and on the television show "Making It Last" talking about adoption and ART.  For more on her background, she was featured in Metro Weekly for her service to family building clients.  Jennifer has been a Maryland and Washington, D.C. Super Lawyer since 2015 and continues to hold that distinction through 2022.  Since 2018 she has been elected to the Top 100 Attorneys and Top 50 Women Lawyers in Maryland.  She was a top 50 Woman Lawyer in the District of Columbia in 2019.  Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.  

She has been rated as a preeminent attorney by peers and clients receiving an AV* rating from Martindale-Hubbell.  An AV certification is a significant rating accomplishment reserved to only 20% of all attorneys rated nationwide.  You can see her listing at:  Jennifer was also rated a 10.0, the highest rating available by AVVO based on an attorneys reviews, experience and ethical standards.  Information about her on Avvo is at:  Each year since 2015, Jennifer was named a "Best Lawyer in Washington, D.C." and was the only attorney who exclusively practices adoption and surrogacy law named to the list.

Jennifer routinely works with stakeholders, legislators and council members on legislation related to both adoption and ART.  She was an integal part of getting the Collaborative Reproductive Act passed in DC in 2017 and new laws in Maryland in 2019 that will expedite the Second Parent Adoption process for married and unmarried partners and provide for gender neutral terms when referring to parents.  This same law codifies that Donors are not parents when the donation occurs through ART in Maryland.

Jennifer's major written accomplishments include:

  • Adoption Law Handbook, ABA (2011 and Second Edition in 2018)
  • Maryland Judiciary Benchbook, Chapter on Adoption (2018)
  • D.C. Bar Practitioners Guide, Chapter on Adoption (2018)

She teaches courses on Adoption and ART for other legal professionals through:

  • Florida Adoption Council
  • American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), International Adoption
  • American Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAAA)
  • American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB), Parentage and Personhood
  • DC Bar Association, CLE, Adoption Around the Beltway
  • Frederick County Bar Association, Adoption and Surrogacy
  • Maryland Judicial Institute, Parentage
  • Maryland Judicial Institute, Adoption and ART
  • Montgomery County Bar Association
  • Montgomery County Inns of Court, Parentage Post Marriage Recognition
  • Anne Arundel Bar Association CLE on Parentage
  • Baltimore City Bar Association and Free State Legal
  • American Bar Association
  • Frederick County Bar Association

Jennifer has presented seminars for potential parents through:

  • Grubb Pharmacy, Fertility Options for LGBT Families
  • George Washington University Lesbian Services Program (working with the Whiteman -Walker clinic)
  • RESOLVE, Inc
  • Rainbow Families D.C.
  • Barker Adoption Foundation
  • Cradle of Hope Adoption Agency
  • Children's Home Society and Family Services (CHLSS)

Jennifer has been a lecturer for law students at:

  • Villanova Law School
  • University of Baltimore School of Law
  • University of Maryland School of Law
  • George Washington School of Law
  • Georgetown School of Law

Reading Recommendations

20 Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew, Sherrie Eldridge

Raising Adopted Children: Practical Reassuring Advice for Every Adoptive Parent, by Lois Ruskai Melina

Talking to Your Child About Adoption, Patricia Martinez Dorner

Making Sense of Adoption, A Parents Guide, Lois Ruskai Melina

Dialogues About Adoption: Conversations Between Parents and Their Children, Linda Bothum

Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self,by David M. Brodzinsky, Marshall D. Schecter and Robin Marantz Henig

The Family of Adoption, by Joyce Maguire Pavao Taking with Young Children About Adoption, Mary Watkins and Susan Fisher

Real Parents, Real Children: Parenting the Adopted Child, Holly van Gulden and LIsa M. Bartels-Rabb

“AV® Preeminent ™ and BV® Distinguished™ are certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies.” Martindale-Hubbell is the facilitator of a peer review rating process. Ratings reflect the anonymous opinions of members of the Bar and the Judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings fall into two categories – legal ability and general ethical standards.

“I believe in working with each of my clients—in support of their family dynamic—to make the dreams of parenthood a reality. Whether you are single or married; or gay; a step-parent, a surrogate or intended parent or a child of adoption, it is my mission to serve as your advocate. With a dedication to the ethical and sensitive nature of each situation, I will help you understand the laws within Maryland or Washington, DC for adoption or surrogacy, and pledge to be your partner throughout the journey.” - Jennifer Fairfax